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Old 01-31-2009, 12:37 AM   #1
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Default Mendenhall reacquainted with team Steelers rookie returns to fold

Mendenhall reacquainted with team Steelers rookie returns to fold
Saturday, January 31, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09031/945958-66.stm

TAMPA, Fla. -- There has been no trouble finding Rashard Mendenhall the past week. He has worn his white No. 34 jersey every day for each Steelers media interview session and hung out with his teammates, at last.

Some of those players had said privately they wanted Mendenhall to come around more often during the season, even though the rookie running back could not play. He went on injured reserve after a big hit by Ray Lewis broke his shoulder in the fourth game of the season.

His teammates wondered, where in the world was Rashard Mendenhall? Turns out, he did not feel comfortable just hanging around them every day when he could not practice or play.

"It's hard, it's frustrating to be around and not be able to play," the Steelers' 2008 first-round draft choice said. "That's part of it, you know what I mean? Just being on IR, you have time to be as strong as you were but at the same time you're not as part of it as you want to be."

The same holds true this week. He has enjoyed the Super Bowl experience but feels detached from it.

"It's cool, it's just hard. Anybody who's been on IR and watched the Super Bowl will tell you how hard it is to not be able to be out there. I'm so proud of these guys, to be part of this team and everything. It's just hard to be a competitor and not be able to compete."

His shoulder healed without surgery, and he has been following his rehabilitation schedule, slowly adding weight in his lifting routine, which he has done at the Steelers' training facility.

"I spend time there and I also take time to take care of family things and stuff at home," Mendenhall explained. "I went to the inauguration in D.C. It was cool. I take advantage of stuff like that. I was among the mass of millions. I went down with a friend of mine in college."

Bruce Arians, the team's offensive coordinator, said Mendenhall has been around the team enough and that he has followed the routine laid out for him.

"I saw him plenty enough. It's hard on a young kid when all of this is thrown at you and then, boom, you're out of it. One of the reasons I wanted to see him more was to make sure he was OK."

Mendenhall also made some trips, and he has followed Willie Parker a little more often the past week.

"Down the stretch, traveling with the team, he needed to see Baltimore," Arians said. "He doesn't need to go to Baltimore for the first time next year. And let him learn and watch Willie, and Willie's had his arm around him a bunch this week because the kid's going to be a great player."

That is why the Steelers drafted Mendenhall with the 23rd choice. He ran for 1,681 yards at Illinois in 2007 with a 6.4-yard average. Although his stats were modest in his brief play with the Steelers -- 58 yards, a 3.1-yard average -- Mendenhall showed the players and coaches enough through training camp until his injury in his first start, Arians said.

"When he played, he flashed what we thought we had. He looks like a beast now when he's dressed out. Watching him run out there a month ago, I looked out the window and I said, 'Who the heck is that? Oh, it's Rashard.' He was looking at full speed."

Tomorrow will end Mendenhall's bittersweet rookie season. He'll watch the Super Bowl with his teammates from the sideline. Come about March, he hopes to be back on equal footing with them.

"I'll be up and back full in the spring," Mendenhall said. "It's another chance to get on the grass. I'm looking forward to it. My plans haven't changed at all, just put on hold."
Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com.
First published on January 31, 2009 at 12:00 am
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Old 01-31-2009, 03:31 AM   #2
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Default Re: Mendenhall reacquainted with team Steelers rookie returns to fold

Nice read I can't wait for him to come back from his injury it will give our running game a big boost the kid has talent.
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Old 01-31-2009, 04:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: Mendenhall reacquainted with team Steelers rookie returns to fold

Well I hope that thug Ray.Ray Lewis is watching the SB at home and he sees Mendenhall on the sideline, and eating his heart out. Thugs like the Ravens putting bountys on players is somthing the NFL needs to take care of to send a message to cheap shot artist all over the league. They tried to take Ben out with late hits in the AFC Championship, and probably broke his rib in the process. Roger Goodell should be more harsh on these thugs.!!!!
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Old 01-31-2009, 05:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: Mendenhall reacquainted with team Steelers rookie returns to fold

Good read...i think hes gonna be a beast when healthy
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Old 01-31-2009, 05:51 AM   #5
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Default Re: Mendenhall reacquainted with team Steelers rookie returns to fold

Yeh, that was a nice read on Mendy. I look forward to next season and get to see this guy in action again in '09. I think he will definitely help out and take back overthe power back situation from Gary Russell.
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Old 01-31-2009, 06:42 AM   #6
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Default Re: Mendenhall reacquainted with team Steelers rookie returns to fold

Great read. I had been giving Mendy a lot of crap for not being around the rest of the team. I guess it would be difficult watching your team go on through the playoffs into the superbowl while feeling like you didn't contribute at all. Glad to have him back though.
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Old 01-31-2009, 06:58 AM   #7
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Default Re: Mendenhall reacquainted with team Steelers rookie returns to fold

Quote:
Originally Posted by pghfrank1948 View Post
Well I hope that thug Ray.Ray Lewis is watching the SB at home and he sees Mendenhall on the sideline, and eating his heart out. Thugs like the Ravens putting bountys on players is somthing the NFL needs to take care of to send a message to cheap shot artist all over the league. They tried to take Ben out with late hits in the AFC Championship, and probably broke his rib in the process. Roger Goodell should be more harsh on these thugs.!!!!

Are you implying there was something dirty/cheap about the hit Ray Lewis put on Mendenhall? I don't want to misread what you are saying.

Yeah, that shot Ben took to his back in the AFC Championship game should have been a 15 yard penalty...it was well after he had let the ball go. For a league that has been hell bent on protecting the qbs all year...don't know how they missed that one.
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Old 01-31-2009, 07:18 AM   #8
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Default Re: Mendenhall reacquainted with team Steelers rookie returns to fold

Quote:
Are you implying there was something dirty/cheap about the hit Ray Lewis put on Mendenhall? I don't want to misread what you are saying.
Hopefully, revenge starts at 6:28 tomorrow.
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:23 AM   #9
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Default Re: Mendenhall reacquainted with team Steelers rookie returns to fold

Glad to see Mendy around. I hope he has used this time wisely enough to know all of the running plays in the playbook. That can only accelerate his growth for next year.
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:48 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mendenhall reacquainted with team Steelers rookie returns to fold

Im still not convinced Mendy is the future at RB. I believe it was a wasted pick whe we had just signed Moore and Russell was still on the roster. Anyways I hope his rehab goes great and he can prove me wrong next year.
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